The second day out of Passport to Broadway’s four day musical theater intensive began with a review of all of the music that was required of the students to learn the night before. It became rather obvious within approximately fifteen minutes that some students didn’t take the instructions as seriously as they should have. By staying at the same hotel as the students the team was well aware that this would be an issue. As they walked the halls and crossed paths with the students they saw that some were well invested in learning their lines, while others were too mesmerized playing games on their iPhones and iPads in lieu of preparing for what was supposed to be the first full day of staging and choreography once the music was memorized. Needless to say, it became apparent that the team had to make some changes, cut and rearrange parts. They rewarded the students who had clearly put in the work with bigger solos and principle parts and took the others out of certain numbers.
The purpose of these strict consequences was to show these students that the team demands accountability and to ensure that they understood just how little time they had to not just learn, but to truly take ownership of the materials and make it their own. Even professionals don’t necessarily have to learn the amount of materials in such a short amount of time as these students do. However, most professionals know the skills required to get out of their heads. They know to just “do” and “not think”, and to rely on their instinct and emotion. As we all know, these are very necessary tools and approaches needed to succeed in the arts. For students from China, who do not necessarily study arts in their country, it is a somewhat foreign approach to learning.
With that said, certain students were shocked and saddened by having their parts taken away or rearranged, while other students were excited, honored and proud to be given even more of a challenge to go further and take on more responsibility. The team believes that the results of this very difficult exercise of accountability ultimately will lead toward a very positive outcome. The students will understand they are relying on each other to do their best, and the strongest will help the less focused and committed rise further than they even imagined they could. By the end of the day, the team was happy to see that the students who had not prepared properly were working harder at lunch and were taking the workshop more seriously and expressing their own beginning signs of excitement. While the students who were rewarded for their hard work grew by leaps and bounds in just a short few hours. The team had to teach more music at the end of the day to finish the show that will be required to be memorized by the third day, Wednesday, July 13th. The Passport to Broadway team is hopeful that the personal responsibility lesson that was learned will turn the tide towards a quicker and more urgent approach to being fully prepared and ready to put on an amazing show. It will also allow each individual and unique student to express themselves as proud owners of this very challenging art form when heading back to their own country.
Again, lunch was quite heavy. The students were given General Tso chicken, rice and Lo Mein. As before, we suggested that the students do not eat so much to avoid any further problems for the second part of the day. However, they could not resist gobbling down the food as quickly as possible due to the fact that they had exerted so much energy during the first part of the day.
To add to this, some of the more funny and quirky things that occurred for our New York Passport to Broadway team acclimating to the Los Angeles scene was when Artistic Director, Amy Weinstein, tried to maneuver her way out of a parking spot into the Los Angeles traffic that seems to increase exponentially as the week goes on. Unfortunately, the team’s hotel is an hour from the studios in Norwalk, California. Both the students and team need to leave during rush hour, both in the morning to get to the studio, and in the evening to get back to the hotel. However, for their third day, the team has decided to avoid the evening rush hour traffic on their way back to the hotel by going to visit some very famous sites in Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard, and Beverly Hills, to name a few. Once they have completed their little touring expedition, the team hopes the return to the hotel from the studio will not be as terrible as the mad bumper to bumper rush hour traffic on the 405 freeway. Good luck to them!
To recap, Passport to Broadway is at a critical point in the four day process. The cultural differences and lack of exposure to this art form are so evident, but what is also evident is the desire and passion that these students have to come out of their shells and enjoy expressing their heart and souls in a less inhibited and a more creative and fun way than they are costumed; even though the material they are learning and the process they are going through is highly professional and requires all of their focus and intention to do well. The special musical numbers that were chosen for them reflect some of the best musicals that touch the lives of children worldwide and cross universal barriers to express teenage and young children’s angst, hopes, wishes, dreams, and fears. The team cannot wait to share some of the success stories of their third day. By the end of the day the entire musical will be taught. The fourth and final day will be a series of run-throughs and to address any final brush-ups for them to be able to perform one final time in the studio for some invited VIP guests. This once-in-a-lifetime experience has left its indelible mark on everyone and Passport to Broadway cannot wait to share the final outcome of success, as well as some of the fun and “inside” touring stories on their final day.